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June 30 2022 7:20 PM ˚
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New era of political parties head of us

Musa Shteiwi
Musa Shteiwi is former director of the Center for Strategic Studies and professor of sociology, University of Jordan and was a member of Royal Committee for Political Modernization.(Photo: Jordan News)
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After the constitutional amendments, next on the agenda will be the elections and political parties’ laws.  In the new elections law, 30 percent of the total seats are allocated for political parties, on a national list; in addition, they are able to compete for seats at local level.اضافة اعلان

These reforms seek to have the country eventually form parliamentary governments, formed by the largest political party or coalition of parties.

This development is expected to give impetus to existing political parties to integrate or coalesce in order to be able to compete at national level, but could also encourage different political elites to form new political parties for the same purpose. The point is that the country is expected to enter new political dynamics where political parties are the main players.

But how will the political party scene look like in the near future? To start with, it is unlikely that we will have a two-party system, with two dominant parties representing the right or the left. Instead, it is more likely that we will have a good number of political parties representing the full spectrum of political tendencies, at least in the beginning.

The conservative right will be represented by the strong opposition Islamic Action Front, representing the traditional Muslim Brotherhood supporters, but it will not be alone. There are advanced efforts to establish a strong non-religious conservative party that will consist of ex-ministers, parliamentarians, senators, businessmen, and others.

The social base for this party will more likely consist of traditional middle and upper classes, as well as socially conservative groups from all backgrounds. This party is expected to be loyal, and have a conservative social agenda, but no clear political ideology.

The center is expected to witness more dynamism and is likely to include a good number of parties in this spectrum. There are advanced discussions for a merger between Zamzam (the National Congress Party) and the Islamic Wasat (middle) Party, both splinters of the Muslim Brotherhood, with clear moderate Islamic tendencies.

There are also merger efforts that involve at least 10 moderate but week political parties that might be able to enlarge their social base if they are united. If the merger is successful, this will be closest to a centrist party with mixed ideological backgrounds. There are also efforts by largely secular politicians, mainly former parliamentarians, civil society activists and academics, to establish a somewhat loosely secular/liberal party, but it is not certain if these efforts will be successful; if they will, it will add to the diversity of political trends.

The third political current is made of the leftist parties, which represent a wide spectrum of political tendencies or ideologies. This group of existing political parties is heterogeneous, with traditional or orthodox Marxist tendencies, Pan-Arab currents, and moderate secular/liberal tendencies. None of these parties can individually successfully compete at national level.

To overcome their weaknesses they either have to merge or to unite for the purpose of the national elections. The diverse ideological and political differences make a merger almost impossible; they are left with the possibility of uniting for the purpose of elections, which some of them will do.

Judging from past experiences, they probably will fail because of their weak and diverse base; most likely, they will remain fragmented or disappear in time.

However, there are intensive discussions among members of the moderate or secular liberal left to explore the possibility of establishing political parties that transcend the traditional leftist ideologies, such as the civil current or the social democrats and other secular tendencies. It is not clear where these efforts will lead, but at this moment, the possibility exists for two political parties which will be secular and most likely left of center.

The leftist tendencies are likely to be the weakest among the full spectrum of political parties, at least for the next parliamentary elections, but they will have an effective presence on the political scene, mainly because of their intellectual base.

In the future, political parties need to develop intellectually coherent and convincing programs, and to overcome the problem of resources, especially financial. It seems that businesspeople will be involved in these efforts.

New political dynamism started among various political elites and politicians in the country, based on the new political legislation, but Jordan looks set on the direction of new and maybe multi-political party system in the next election.

The writer is former director of the Center for Strategic Studies and professor of sociology, University of Jordan and was a member of Royal Committee for Political Modernization.

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